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Recognizing Bipolar Episodes

Manic Episodes

A person who is in a manic episode will have an abnormal and continuously elevated (happy or energetic) mood or irritable mood occurs and lasts at least one week.

During this elevated mood, at least three of the following symptoms are present:

  • Inflated self-esteem or unrealistic feelings of importance
  • Decreased need for sleep (feeling rested after only a few hours of sleep)
  • Talkativeness (more than usual)
  • Racing thoughts
  • Being easily distracted by unimportant things
  • An increased focus on reaching job or personal goals
  • Involvement in irresponsible activities that might have dangerous consequences (such as engaging in increased sexual activity, making foolish business deals, or spending large sums of money)
  • The behavior is severe enough to cause an inability to function properly in a job, in social situations, or in relationships with others, and it becomes necessary to seek hospitalization to prevent the person from harming himself or herself or others.
  • Psychosis may be present.
  • The symptoms are not due to substance abuse.

If you or someone you love is experiencing a manic episode, it is important to seek help. There are many treatments available for manic episodes.

Hypomanic Episodes

The most common characteristics of a person who has hypomania include the following:

  • A distinct period of elevated or irritable mood occurs in which the mood is clearly different from a regular non-depressed mood and can last as long as four days.
  • Three or more of the following symptoms last for a significant period of time:
  • Inflated self-esteem or unrealistic feelings of importance
  • Decreased need for sleep (feels rested after only a few hours of sleep)
  • Talkativeness
  • Racing thoughts or flight of ideas
  • Being easily distracted
  • An increase in goal-directed activity (work or personal)
  • Irresponsible behaviors that may have serious consequences (such as going on shopping sprees, engaging in increased sexual activity, or making foolish business investments)
  • The mood or behavior change is noticeable to others.
  • The mood change differs from the way the person normally behaves.
  • The episode is not severe enough to cause impairment in social or job functioning and does not require hospitalization.
  • The symptoms are not due to substance abuse.

Hypomanic episodes are less severe than manic episodes, although a hypomanic episode can still interfere with a person's ability to function properly. If you or someone you love is experiencing a hypomanic episode, it is important to seek help.

Depressive Episodes

The most common characteristics of a person who has depression include the following:

  • Slowed thoughts and speech due to low energy.
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, and making decisions.
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits leading to too much or too little eating or sleeping.

Common symptoms of depression are more than just the normal, temporary feelings of sadness and hopelessness associated with life events.

If you are depressed, you will also experience five or more symptoms such as:

  • Problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions.
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits. You may eat or sleep too much or too little.
  • A loss of interest in things you once enjoyed.
  • Difficulty going to work or taking care of your daily responsibilities.
  • Feelings of guilt and hopelessness. It is common for depression to make you wonder if life is worth living.
  • Slowed thoughts and speech or no speech
  • Preoccupation with thoughts of death or suicide.